Berks County Pa School Districts Public Information Officer

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					                        Berks County Department of Emergency Services
                                                                                   DirectLink Technology Center
                                                                           2561 Bernville Rd. | Reading, PA 19605
                                 Phone: (610) 374-4800 | Fax: (610) 374-8865 | E-mail:

                                   April 2010 Monthly Newsletter

 VHF Tactical Interoperability Channels                        Hydrogen Sulfide Suicide Incidents
The FCC has designated "interoperability channels" in the      In the past several months incidents involving
VHF band for public safety use. The intention of these         suicides where Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) was used in
channels is to permit public safety users with VHF radios to   a confined space (such as a vehicle) have been
talk to each other during events that require such             reported. H2S presents unique hazards to first
interoperability. This saves you from having to worry about
                                                               responders as the IDLH (immediately dangerous to
programming your radio (and getting frequency
                                                               life and health) is 100 ppm. H2S is highly toxic and
authorizations) with channels that you use very
infrequently. If all VHF radio users include these channels    may be fatal if inhaled and can be created easily by
in the way that is outlined below, whether you are a law       mixing certain household chemicals.
enforcement officer, firefighter, or EMS provider, you can
call someone else with a VHF radio even if they do not         First responders should remember that personal
have your particular discipline channel installed in their     safety is the number one priority and keep in mind
radio. These channels should never be used for "normal         the following issues:
                                                                      Be extremely alert and aware on all suicide
VCall - This channel should be included in your scan                   calls;
bank and used to hail another user. Another VTac                      When approaching a vehicle, a visual
channel should then be negotiated to switch to for the                 inspection should be conducted before
rest of the conversation so that VCall is freed up for                 gaining access to ay vehicle;
hailing by other users.                                               Personnel who arrive first at a vehicular
Rx - 155.7525, CSQ                                                     suicide and determine that hazardous
Tx - 155.7525, 156.7(5A)                                               materials are present should remain outside
                                                                       until personnel in SCBA can breach the
VTac 1                                                                 vehicle and extract the patient/victim to a
Rx - 151.1375, CSQ                                                     safe area.
Tx - 151.1375, 156.7(5A)

VTac 2
Rx - 154.4525, CSQ
Tx - 154.4525, 156.7(5A)

VTac 3
Rx - 158.7375, CSQ
Tx - 158.7375, 156.7(5A)

VTac 4
Rx - 159.4725, CSQ
Tx - 159.4725, 156.7(5A)

                                                               This picture was taken from an H2S suicide incident in a vehicle.
                                                                  Note the plastic bucket and containers. Use caution when
                                                               accessing the interior of the vehicle if materials such as this are
       Emergency Management Training                                    Websites of Interest
                                                         Stop Disasters!
Each month, the Berks County Department of     
Emergency Services provides training to the municipal    If you’ve caught yourself shaking your head at the
emergency management coordinators on a variety of        latest building failures, evacuation follies, or general
topics. This training is free of charge and is open to   ill-preparedness for disasters, here’s a chance to do it
anyone involved in municipal government or               your way. Stop Disasters!, an addictive game created
emergency services. For additional information or to     by the UN International Strategy for Disaster
register,   please       send     an     e-mail     to   Reduction, lets you pick from various disaster                                 scenarios such as earthquake, tsunami, and wildfire.
                                                         With a limited budget to build safely, get prepared,
                                                         and communicate, it’s up to you to keep your city
    Date          Time                    Topic
                                                         safe when disaster strikes.
   4/28/2010   0800 & 1830   Initial Damage Reporting
   5/26/2010   0800 & 1830   Red Cross Course
   6/30/2010   0800 & 1830   Advanced Skywarn Spotter    MapTogether
   7/28/2010   0800 & 1830   Community Resilience
   8/25/2010   0800 & 1830   Table Top Exercise          Whether you’re looking for a slick way to illustrate an
   9/29/2010   0800 & 1830   Legal Issues in EM          evacuation route or trying to visualize vulnerable
  10/27/2010   0800 & 1830   Work Environment            populations in a pandemic, mapping technology can
  11/17/2010   0800 & 1830   Radiological Awareness      be invaluable—but small nonprofits rarely have a
                                                         cartographer     on   the   payroll.   That’s     where
All training is held at the Berks County Department of   MapTogether comes in with free training, software,
Emergency Services located at 2561 Bernville Rd.         and other resources. Check out their site for
                                                         examples of how their tools can be applied to public
                                                         safety, disaster preparedness, and relief efforts.
 FEMA Releases Partner Guides for National
          Response Framework                                         SPRING FLOODING
        The National Response Framework (NRF) is
a comprehensive national guidance document that          As with many communities in Pennsylvania, Berks County
addresses roles, responsibilities, activities, and       is susceptible to the problems and hazards associated with
interdependencies for partners involved in
                                                         flooding. Flooding caused by riverine or flash floods can
response and short-term recovery actions to
disasters and emergencies in the United States.          cause extensive property damage, displace residents, and
This includes local, tribal, State, and Federal          also cause life safety issues. Due to the flooding potential,
governments, as well as nongovernmental                  it is important for emergency responders to be aware of
organizations (NGOs) and the private sector.             potential locations for flooding in your community.
        These partner guides provide a targeted          FEMA has created an online tool to allow users to view
index to information in the NRF core document            flood insurance rate maps (FIRMS) to identify if a
that is specifically pertinent to government             particular location is located in a floodplain (an area
leaders      and      emergency       management         susceptible to flooding). This interactive tool, called the
practitioners. The guides are intended to serve as
                                                         Map Service Center is an excellent resource to become
a ready reference to assist users in quickly
locating sections of the NRF that are applicable to      familiar with and bookmark as it contains important
partners.                                                information on all aspects of flooding and flood insurance.
        To access these guides and other
information    about    the   National   Response             
Framework, visit the website at:
 Reading Area Water Authority Source Water                                Total Visibility Photo Opportunities
            Protection Program
                                                   The following sessions have been
What do these signs mean?                          scheduled for those individuals
                                                   who have not had their picture
You may have seen these signs posted around
                                                   taken for the Total Visibility
Berks County, especially in areas around Lake
Ontelaunee or around tributaries that drain to the System.
lake.    The Reading Area Water Authority in
cooperation with Spotts, Stevens, & McCoy has                    No registration is
developed a source water protection plan to ensure               required….just stop
the safety of the City of Reading’s drinking water,              in….it only takes a few
which comes from Lake Ontelaunee. In the event                   minutes!!!!
of an incident involving hazardous materials in the
area of Lake Ontelaunee or tributary, normal
                                                                 There are currently no sessions scheduled. If
mitigation techniques should be used to control the
incident while special attention should be given to                you require a photo, please contact Berks
ensuring that the product has not entered nearby                    DES to schedule a time to have a picture
waterways or storm sewers. Notification to the 9-1-                           taken at our office.
1 center should include the amount and type of
product spilled, the areas impacted by the incident                    Annual Statewide Severe
and the responsible party.
                                                                          Weather Exercise
                                                                 The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, in
                                                                 conjunction with the National Weather Service
                                                                 conducted the 2010 Spring Hazardous Weather
                                                                 Preparedness Functional Exercise on Thursday, March
                                                                 18, 2010. As part of this statewide exercise, the Berks
                                                                 County Department of Emergency Services tested its
                                                                 communication capabilities using the resources available
                                                                 through the Berks County ARES/RACES organization.
                                                                 Mr. Donald Boulanger & Mr. C.J. Dynes communicated
                                                                 with over 20 amateur radio operators in Berks,
                                                                 Lancaster, Lebanon, Dauphin, Lehigh, Montgomery and
   Mass Notification System Program Update                       Northampton counties.

                       The Berks County Department of            Berks DES would like to thank everyone who
                              Emergency Services, through        participated in the exercise and those who took time out
                                our relationship with the East   of their busy schedules to ensure that the county is
                                Central     Counter-Terrorism
                                                                 prepared for emergencies of all types.
                                Task Force, has been
                                successful     in     securing
                        funding through DHS to put in place
                     a mass notification system for all county
residents. This system will permit county residents to
register for this free service through a web portal. Once
registered, they will be able to receive to any mobile data
device or email, notifications from public safety officials.
This system will also become the county's primary
notification system for text paging of fire and EMS
personnel being activated for emergencies. Many more
details will be forthcoming as we move through a 90-120
day implementation process.
Limerick Generating Station Full-Scale Exercise After                   New Employees at Berks DES
                   Action Report                              The   Berks     County    Department   of
                                                              Emergency Services is honored to announce
During the week of November 16, 2009, the Berks               the arrival of several new members to the
County Department of Emergency Services, the risk             team.
and support municipalities surrounding LGS and
numerous emergency service providers and school                      John Fritz – Haz Mat Technician
districts participated in a full-scale exercise testing             Ronald Hawk – Haz Mat Technician
the response capabilities of these organizations in                   Donnie Swope – SARA Planner
the event of an emergency at the Limerick
Generating      Station   in
Montgomery County.                                                Welcome & Good Luck to All!!!!
As part of the exercise
program,       evaluators
from the Federal Emergency Management Agency,
the PA Emergency Management Agency and Exelon
Corporation monitored the actions taken by the
participating organizations and provided feedback on
the efficiency of their operations. The final report on
the exercise has been published and is available on
the Berks DES website.

            First Responder Safety at a Small Aircraft or Helicopter Accident
         As small aircraft and helicopters have become more complex, technology has provided systems that have
enhanced operational safety. In the event of an accident, many of these systems have presented additional hazards to
first responders or any potential rescuer at an aircraft accident scene. The FAA, in cooperation with General Aviation
Manufacturers Association (GAMA), various manufacturers and first responder professional organizations, has developed
training for safety at an aircraft accident scene. While the material was initially developed for firefighters, Emergency
Medical Services (EMS) and police, it provides useful information for any persons that may come across an aircraft
accident. The free training is available at the following website:

                                                                Berks County Department of Emergency Services

                                                                             DirectLink Technology Center
                                                                                  2561 Bernville Rd.
       L.R Kimball has been requested to provide a                                Reading, PA 19605
needs assessment and design recommendation for                                  Phone (610) 374-4800
the public safety radio system used by Berks County,                             Fax (610) 374-8865
Pennsylvania (County). The report addresses two                     
immediate shortcomings of the existing radio
system; congestion, the inability of that system to                                 Department Leadership
provide sufficient channels for current and future                                  Brian Gottschall, CEM
public safety communications requirements; and                                         Deputy Director
coverage, the inability to communicate throughout                                       Wanda Keener
the required geographic area within user-defined                                   Support Services Manager
signal loss (e.g. buildings) and operational                                            Robert Ashton
                                                                              Communications Operations Manager
parameters.                                                                           Matthew Stairiker
       A complete copy of the report can be found                            Emergency Services Operations Manager
on the Berks DES website.                                                           Jeffrey Weidner, CEM
                                                                                      Planning Manager
        Importance of Volunteer Faces in Emergency Management
                   By Cathy Carter Dempsey, FEMA Disaster Generalist, Huntsville, Alabama

           hristmas Day 2009 was          Identify Potential Volunteers          (CERT) members an opportunity to
           an eventful day for many                                              take a Preliminary Damage Assess-
           volunteers across America       During critical moments, it is        ment class taught by representa-
that helped us recognize and            impossible to know much about            tives from FEMA. CERTs are often
appreciate the importance of the        spontaneous volunteers, but now is       included in training opportunities in
many volunteer faces in emergency       the time to identify potential           Alabama, which we hope will set a
management. Sadly, volunteers in        volunteers in your communities.          good example for other emergency
Maryland found the body of a            Create a form for volunteers to give     managers.
kidnapped little girl on Christmas      their full name, contact informa-
Day, Civil Air Patrol members from      tion, location, social security                 Tips to Encourage
the Alabama Wing discovered             number (voluntary in most in-             Volunteers in Your Community
bodily remains and aircraft debris      stances – not always required, so
from a crash site near the Georgia      take care with laws regarding               Here are a few tips for ways to
border, while many viewers were         personal information), driver’s          help your volunteers have a
riveted to television news coverage     license data, with releases to waive     satisfactory, productive and effec-
about the passengers who foiled a       legal action in case of death or         tive experience:
terrorist’s attempt to use an explo-    injury and to garner a background              Discover if additional training
sive device on a Detroit bound          check, or to use their photos if part    expenses are eligible for reimburse-
plane. Emergency managers               of a press release. The form should      ment.
worldwide can significantly im-         include information about the                  Notify volunteers of training
prove their volunteers’ services in     knowledge, skills and abilities of       opportunities.
roles that are both helpful and         our diversely talented volunteers.             Share training opportunities
meaningful to the giver and re-         Ask about their disaster/emergency/      with fellow emergency managers.
ceiver.                                 sheltering experience, administra-             Create and publically post
   Passengers scrambled across          tive, clerical, telephone, security or   updated lists of volunteer work
seats and aisles to subdue the          language skills (including American      available/needed.
Nigerian terrorist who came too         Sign Language). Find out their skill           Find ways to offer assistance
close to ending the lives of the 278    or knowledge level, and preferably       with training-related travel or
passengers and 11 crew members          document it with certificates of         lodging.
of Flight 253 as it began its descent   relevant training. Medical skills              Provide awards, which could
to land in Detroit from Amsterdam.      such as physician, nurse, aide,          include certificates, plaques, news
“It sounded like a firecracker in a     therapist, or current proof of First     stories or other forms of apprecia-
pillowcase. First there was a pop       Aid, CPR Infant, Children, and           tion and recognition.
and then smoke,” reported passen-       Adult, are vital assets, but don’t             The holiday spirit of giving is
ger Peter Smith. One passenger          forget to ask about animal care,         a year-round spirit among volun-
jumped on the terrorist and grabbed     such as veterinarians, vet techni-       teers. Emergency managers can
the burning device while smother-       cians, animal handlers or those with     help foster the giving spirit and
ing flames with his bare hands.         animal sheltering experience.            nurture the growth of volunteers
   After passengers took control of        It is good to know if your            throughout 2010 by using their
the terrorist, they stripped and        potential volunteer prefers to work      volunteer management expertise.
searched him while also making          with young children, teens, adults,            Emergency managers can
sure the fire was extinguished. This    or seniors – and ask them why they       garner more volunteer management
quick action was possibly due to a      want to volunteer! Do they have a        training with courses like IS-244,
learning curve that occurred after      preferred volunteer task in mind?        “Developing and Managing Volun-
9/11, when aircraft passengers          Getting to know your volunteers in       teers,” at
realized the only way to stop a         advance prevents many safety/            EMIWeb/IS/is244.asp.
deadly event in the air is to immedi-   security issues. Offer debriefings             Check out the Library Topic
ately take control of the emergency.    and counseling as needed, and            called “Developing and Managing
   Richard Reid, infamous “shoe-        provide volunteers with yearly           Volunteer Programs” at www.
bomber” of 2001, learned how            surveys so you may revise your 
quickly passengers can take             programs when needed.                    outsrcng/volnteer/volnteer.htm for a
control. Emergency managers and            In 2009, the Madison County           great overview about the “benefits
homeland security officials encour-     (Ala.) Emergency Management              and challenges” of building volun-
aged greater vigilance during travel,   Agency offered their Community           teer programs.
and it is paying off.                   Emergency Response Team
               Warning: Hot Coffee! -                                                              Building Construction
                 U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Alert to Fire Safety Professionals
                No. HC-2010-1 March 31, 2010

                                 ALERT! Report to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
                                 any fires that you suspect are associated with problem drywall.

T he U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is investigating potential fire hazards that may be related to
problem drywall. They need your help!
While CPSC is not aware of any corroborated fire incidents to date, they are asking fire safety professionals to be on the
lookout for and to report to CPSC any fires that appear to be connected to problem drywall to aid in their investigation.
Corrosion (typically blackening) of air conditioning evaporator coils, electrical wiring, and other metal components
is a common symptom of residences finished with problem drywall. Consumers raising concerns about drywall have
typically identified a “rotten egg” smell within their house, several health symptoms while in the home, corrosion or
blackening of metal items, and failures of electronic devices and appliances. Consumers have also reported frequent
failures of the evaporator coils in central air conditioning units.

                   CPSC has launched an investigation of problem       The ground wire connected to the green screw
                   drywall.                                            is blackened from corrosion. This wire should be

                   The copper coils on this air conditioner unit are   This copper water pipe is blackened.
                   blackened from corrosion.

For more information about CPSC’s drywall investigation, visit the Drywall Information Center at
Report problem drywall-related fires to CPSC’s Rik Khanna at or 301-504-7546 or Andrew
Trotta at or 301-504-7578.

       Eligible for Continuing Education Units (CEUs)                                                    For archived downloads, go to:
               Prehospital Response to
RADIOACTIVE                                                    RADIOACTIVE
              Radiation Accident Patients
     7                                                              7
                        This class is worth 2.5 DOH CEU’s

                     Wednesday, April 7, 2010
                        1830-2200 Hours

                  Bally Community Ambulance
                537 Chestnut St., Bally, PA 19503

                            To Register Contact:
                                Aaron Rhone
               Berks County Department of Emergency Services
                         (610) 374-4800 Ext. 8213

                    Registration Deadline – April 5, 2010


Description: Berks County Pa School Districts Public Information Officer document sample